Volleyball splits weekend


Redshirt junior Mackenzie Roddy spikes the ball Sept. 20 against George Washington University. NIU kept its MAC record at .500 with a win and loss this weekend.

By Mike Romor

Volleyball broke its road losing streak Saturday, but not before losing a five-setter Friday.

Friday, NIU (12-10, 4-4 MAC) held a lead in the fourth set at Buffalo (16-5, 4-4), but the Bulls scored five of the last six points of the set. The fifth set proved to be more of the same, as Buffalo took the decisive set 15-12.

NIU outhit Buffalo .243-.208. Buffalo possesses one of the best defenses in the MAC, but it didn’t show up until the fifth set, when NIU hit only .087. The loss was the second in two weeks in which the Huskies held a 2-1 lead on the road going into the fourth before dropping the final two sets in the match.

“I thought we were doing some pretty good things through the third [set] and even through part of the fourth, but we just didn’t handle the ball as well as we needed to,” said head coach Ray Gooden. “We didn’t make them play the ball as much as we wanted to and it ended up being a tough loss for us.”

Freshman Mary Grace Kelly led the Huskies’ attack with one of her best outputs of the season. Her 20 kills led all performers and she hit a team-high .326.

Fellow outside hitter Mackenzie Roddy finished with 19 kills, while freshman middle blocker Jenna Radtke posted the match’s only two solo blocks.

Setter Alexis Gonzalez had 44 assists and 14 digs, while libero Justine Schepler led the Huskies with 19 digs.

Buffalo was propelled by a great performance from Tahleia Bishop, who finished with 18 kills, 14 digs and three service aces.

Heading into Saturday’s affair at Akron, NIU knew it had to break its four-match losing streak by downing the worst team in the MAC.

The Huskies did just that, this time in four sets.

Akron (6-13, 0-8) offered little resistance to NIU’s attack as the match wore on. The Huskies started out hitting only .105 in the first set, but improved that percentage throughout the match, outhitting the Zips .263-.187.

“Akron came out firing in the first set,” Gooden said. “They really had us on our heels and we took a big punch to start the match. We didn’t respond as well as we needed to in the first set, but we came back and responded well in the second. We continued to do well in the third and battled to close it out in the fourth.”

Kelly once again played well, this time in a homecoming of sorts. Kelly, a Strongsville, Ohio, native, grew up less than an hour away from Akron.

“It was really cool for her to go out there and play really well for us in a homecoming for her,” Gooden said. “She did a really good job offensively for us and she also did some great things in the back row.”

Roddy also had another great performance, this time leading the Huskies with 14 kills. She tied Schepler for the team lead with 12 digs.

Radtke and senior Sarah Angelos each played a significant role in the team’s balanced attack, as well. Radtke had four more solo blocks and hit .375 with eight kills. Angelos put together an even better offensive night, tallying 12 kills with a .455 hitting percentage.